Institute of Applied Problems of Physics of Armenian NAS against government's intention to give one of buildings to another organization

January 27, 2023  18:13

The Institute of Applied Problems of Physics of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia (NAS RA) has given a negative opinion on the government's draft decision on transferring one of the buildings to the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography.

In his interview with Tech, IAPP acting Director Vahan Kocharyan said that according to this project, the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography would be relocated from its building in Yerevan center (15 Charents Street) to one of the IAPP buildings in Nersisyan 25 (Kanaker-Zeytun district), and the building in the center would be given to the Chamber of Accounts.

According to the Acting Director, with last year's increase in funding for science, the institutes have just begun to work actively. The IAPP currently has several projects under grants from the Committee of Science, under which, in particular, the institute has committed itself to establishing new laboratories and developing new areas, for which it will be necessary to condense the existing laboratories.

X-ray micro-tomograph with its software and X-ray spectrograph for 2D mapping were assembled in the building in question last year, for which about AMD 50 million was spent, while the market value of these installations exceeds hundreds of millions.  A new X-ray microtomograph with 1÷2 μm resolution is currently being developed, which could be of important strategic importance. It will make it possible to conduct important research, which has not yet been conducted in Armenia.

As the Acting Director noted, the old facilities of the Institute have been used again within the framework of new projects, as well as new equipment has been purchased and the Institute believes that now it is inexpedient to stop the work, dismantle the operating facilities and transfer them somewhere. Especially if the government intends to create a scientific town within 10 years, most likely in Ashtarak, and then the Institute of Applied Problems of Physics can move there.

"In that case, why dismantle the installations now, move them somewhere, stop the work of scientists, and then dismantle and move them again?" asks Vahan Kocharyan.

As for the talks that the government intends to withdraw scientific institutes from the subordination of the Academy of Sciences and attach them to universities, Vahan Kocharyan noted that he would not like to comment on the rumors, but, nevertheless, he believes that in the state in which the Armenian science is today, drastic changes are unacceptable.

"I think based on the situation in Armenia, the potential of science, the status of the Academy should be preserved, it should develop and when the institutes restore their former strength, only then we can talk about some changes, work out a new model of cooperation with universities, etc," he said.

According to Vahan Kocharyan, now when the financing of the sphere has increased, scientific institutions should be kept away from politics, let them develop science, either fundamental or applied, and only after their strengthening, it will be possible to discuss which model of science organization is the most acceptable for Armenia: academic or university.

"And at the moment, if they try to introduce any model, in my opinion, it will be a grave mistake, and will lead to the complete destruction of the already fragile scientific structure," he said.

According to him, the mechanical connection of institutes with universities may and will lead to a slight increase in the ratings of universities, but the science will suffer losses, the institutes may lose their scientific potential, there will be a struggle for teaching hours, and arbitrary dismissals will begin. So far, according to Vahan Kocharyan, the proposal to move the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, for instance, or the talks about merging institutes with universities raise doubts about corruption risks: one gets the impression that someone wants to get hold of an expensive property in the center of the city.

Vahan Kocharyan thinks there should be concrete work at the institutes, along with an increase in funding, so they can restore the power they have lost in 30 years. And all this should be done by the Academy together with the Committee of Science, and direct the activities for the benefit, not to the detriment of science.

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